This collection differs from Shah's other Nasrudin books. Several of the stories in The Subtleties of the Inimitable Mulla Nasrudin have Nasrudin on airplanes, trains, listening to the radio, acting as a factory worker and union official, and so on. I prefer the pre-modern age Mulla Nasrudin to the contemporary. Almost a 3.5 rounds down to 3 stars.
Mulla Nasrudin is the Br'er Rabbit, or Coyote, of the Middle East. The stories are teaching stories, and they can be very amusing, thoughtful, and thought stimulating, all at once. Idries Shah's books tend to be very well written, anyway, however the subject is simply delightful. I can't add much more than what others have said, except to say that the stories really make one think. Tales of Juha: Classic Arab Folk Humor (International Folk Tales) Juha is the Arabic version, and Nearly Nonsense: Hoja Tales from Turkey Hoja is the Turkish version. The stories sometimes show up in Western culture, without attribution.
Dad had this and I think he found it to be profound (but I don't trust memory). I found it confusing as a teen. Bought it again when it came across my radar recently. Glad I only bought it for Kindle at a low price. I couldn't get anything out of it of merit. (Sorry, memory of Dad.)
I'm just back from a trip to Turkey, where I discovered that Mulla Nasrudin is almost as popular as PEANUTS is in the United States. In addition to providing amusement, however, the Nasrudin stories are also used there as exercises for spiritual development with children and adults alike, since they externalize in joke form common patterns of human thought and behavior that need to be identified and understood in order for a human being to make progress. Thus, the Turks, and interested Western readers as well, can laugh and learn, both at once, from these ancient Middle Eastern anecdotes.
This book is a compilation of funny anecdotes and jokes compiled through the ages. The choice of words and sentence structures clearly shows the difficulty in translating such text. In these regards the book is fine.
This book fails mightily when talking about Mulla Nasuraddin. I understand that Mulla at this stage is mostly considered somewhat fictitious figures and stories about him probably have different origins which are attributed over the times to a single person. At the same time, the author has completely take a leap of faith and almost any anecdote even modern ones about trains and machines had been assigned to Mulla. I was really looking for the charm of those old time stories not a general anecdote. In that sense, this books disappointed me.